LAPD Officers Possibly Cleared In Ezell Ford Case

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles Police Commission on Tuesday will consider the findings of two investigations into the Aug. 11 fatal police shooting of Ezell Ford, sources told City News Service.

RELATED: African-American Community Leaders React to the Ezell Ford Autopsy Report
The results of the Los Angeles Police Department's investigation into the shooting, and a concurrent probe by the department's independent watchdog, Alex Bustamante, have not been released. But the Los Angeles Times, citing sources familiar with the probes, reported on its website that both investigations determined that officers Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas were justified in opening fire.

The shooting of the 25-year-old, unarmed black man in the 200 block of West 65th Street sparked months of protests last year and calls by community activists for a transparent investigation.

Wampler, a 12-year veteran of the LAPD, and Villegas, an eight-year veteran, were both reassigned to administrative duties afterward.

According to The Times, the department found that Ford was fighting for control of one officer's gun, noting that Ford's DNA was found on the weapon.

Investigators also found that Wampler's hands were scratched, as was the holster for Wampler's gun.

Police have said the officers were approaching the unarmed black man, who was making "suspicious movements," when he turned and "grabbed one of the officers."

"During the struggle, they fell to the ground and the individual (Ford) tried to remove the officer's handgun from its holster," according to the LAPD's official account of the shooting. "The partner officer then fired his handgun and the officer on the ground fired his backup weapon at the individual."

According to The Times, Bustamante also found the shooting to be justified, but he faulted officers for how they approached Ford in the first place. He concluded that it was unclear if the officers had sufficient justification to approach Ford and and try to detain him, The Times reported.

Autopsy results showed Ford was shot three times -- in the right side of his back, the right arm and the right abdomen. The gunshot wounds to the back and the abdomen were both fatal, according to the report.

Ford was pronounced dead in an operating room at California Hospital Medical Center.

The autopsy report noted that the gunshot wound on Ford's back had "muzzle imprint," indicating the shot was fired at close range, and that Ford had some marijuana in his system.

The family's attorney, Steven Lerman, said Ford was "mentally challenged," a fact known to the officers, and was not doing anything wrong when he was stopped. He also alleged the two officers involved in the shooting were "poorly trained" and have a documented "pattern and practice" of reckless conduct on the streets.

Ford's family filed a $75 million federal lawsuit against the city last September, contending that Ford was shot while complying with police orders to lay on the ground. The family also filed a complaint in state court in March.

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